Sunday, 24 November 2013

Nutty purple carrot balls - how not to follow a recipe

I was quite taken with Angela's Lentil Walnut Mushroom Balls with Cranberry-Pear Sauce that she recently posted for Thanksgiving.  It is not Thanksgiving in Melbourne (now or ever) but it is the sort of recipe I love.  In fact I thought if I made it into a loaf it would make a very nice nut roast.  I didn't veer quite that far from the recipe.  Not quite.  However I didn't quite follow it.  Here is what I did.

I didn't quite have enough walnuts or mushrooms but the recipe did seem a perfect opportunity to use up some unshelled walnuts, pistachios and purple carrots.

It was only in writing up the recipe that I noticed that I only used half the amount of nuts.  It took long enough to shell those.  Though it was very relaxing to sit and shell pistachios with Sylvia watching Peppa Pig.  Less relaxing when she suddenly wanted to eat walnuts and my stocks were so low.

I finely chopped them with a knife but I think the mixture might have held better if I had coarsely ground them in a food processor or blender.

I ignored Angela's instructions to measure the water for cooking the lentils.  I was so sure they would take longer than she said.  Then I drained them and - oops - I think some of the lentil sludge went down the sink.  They might have held together better if I had followed instructions.

I cut some fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden - lopping off a bit of camelia bush that got in my way.  I didn't measure it. 

I carrots were so knobbly and gnarly that instead of grating, as first planned, I finely diced them.  They cooked ok but might have held together if grated.  (Are you starting to see a theme?)  At this point I wasn't think of the mixture holding together.  I was too busy admiring the gorgeous colours in the frypan. Purple carrots and green pistachios are so pretty together!  They were quite oily after I misread 2 tablespoons rather than 2 teaspoons.

I changed around a few other ingredients.  I don't have sherry vinegar.  I do have French lavender salt.  I probably used too much salt.  I did end up with these glorious purple balls.  They didn't stick together very well.  If you have been reading this whole post carefully, you will have some clues as to why.

On the first night I made them I fried them.  I was racing to have my dinner cooked to eat alongside Sylvia before she went to bed.  With my slow old oven it seemed quicker.

I didn't have the fresh cranberries or the time to make the sauce that Angela made.  I looked out an old jar of cranberry sauce.  It was horrid.  I found a jar of chutney in the pantry dated 2010.  It tasted wrong.  Finally I found a jar of Ploughman's relish that worked perfectly.

Added some fresh bread, asparagus and pickled beetroot.  Not a bad meal

I was surprised on the next night when I baked the remaining balls, to find I preferred them this way.  They crisped up nicely and were far easier to cook.

I also tried adding breadcrumbs but the mixture was still a bit crumbly.

I tried them with an avocado salad dressing and quite liked that but also returned to the relish.

I loved the colour.  I loved all the interesting ingredients.  I loved the balls in a sandwich with some relish and veg.  I must work harder on making the mixture stick together.  Three out of four aint bad!

I am sending these balls to Ricki Heller for her Wellness Weekends event where bloggers share healthy recipes.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago:
Dublin cafe - Bewley's in Grafton Street
Two years ago: Flower Cake
Three years ago: Apple and Cranberry Chutney
Four years ago: Carrot Salad and Pate
Five years ago: Accolades and some random facts
Six years ago: Swinging Pancakes

Purple carrot balls - work in progress
Adapted from Oh She Glows
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup uncooked green lentils
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pistachio nuts
2 teaspoons virgin olive oil
1 and 1/3 cups of finely diced purple carrot
1 generous cup mushrooms
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon rubbed fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons ground linseeds (flax) + 3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into a coarse flour
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoon French lavender salt or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook lentils for about 20 minutes or until just tender.  Drain off any water.  Lightly dry fry nuts and then finely chop - next time I will coarsely grind in food processor.   Heat oil in frypan over medium high heat and fry carrots, mushrooms and garlic (I added them as I chopped them) for about 5 to 10 minutes until soft.  Stir in cranberries, herbs and balsamic vinegar for about 1 minute and remove from heat.  Stir in linseed, water, oat flour, salt and pepper.  Mix to a stiff dough.

NOTE: My dough was a little crumbly so I added some breadcrumbs and water but this didn't make it must less crumbly - I think more nuts and more finely ground would help and perhaps even chopping the vegies finer and then if needed some more oat flour.

Roll into balls the size of walnuts.  Place on lined oven tray and bake at 200 C for about 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly coloured and dry on the outside.  Alternately you could fry in a little oil but I think the baked were just as good, if not better.

On the Stereo:
The Sound of White: Missy Higgins


  1. Lol it was obviously one of those baking days where things just keep going wring, but the results look delicious. I'm very taken with those purple carrots too. The balls remind me of falafel. Bet they would be great with some houmous

    1. Thanks Katie - I think I was getting distracted which often happens as I multi task at dinner but at least I have an idea of where I am going - they would be great with hummus or other dips - imagine purple balls with spinach hummus :-)

  2. It sounds like quite an adventure! I've bookmarked the recipe and will hopefully try it soon :)

  3. They look good to me Johanna. Cooper would love these!

    1. Thanks Jac - I think I managed to convince Sylvia to eat about half one

  4. Haha, I like your approach to following recipes! They look rather spectacular in purple. I've been thinking about making the original recipe for Christmas, though I might follow the instructions/ingredients a little closer ;)

    1. Thanks Emma - sometimes I just figure I will bake with what I have on hand and the purple carrots were begging to star in a recipe - hope you enjoy the original :-) Maybe I will get there one day

  5. It is testament to Ange's mad skillz that her recipe was wonderful even with all your "adaptations". Teehee! So pretty, too.

    1. Thanks Hannah - all good recipes are open to adaptation - and Ange's recipes are great!

  6. You make me feel better about my own WIP post :-) However, your carrot balls actually look lovely in spite of their challenges and the purple colour is brilliant. I had bookmarked the original recipe too and have it as a Christmas possibility - if I do make it, I shall follow instructions exactly or perhaps do a trial run first!

    1. Thanks Kari - I was also comforted to see you doing a WIP post - I think my main problem was that they didn't hold together but that is really just a quibble among friends - I think the original recipe seemed really christmassy - in fact I was a little sad my cranberry sauce was past its best because I love her suggestion of the cranberry and pear sauce with them but fresh cranberries are like hen's teeth around here

  7. You are so funny, Johanna. It sounds like you went through a bit of trial and error but hey, they look mighty good to me!!! There color is amazing!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

    1. Thanks Louise - glad you enjoyed a laugh with me - it is quite amusing to see how far I stray from a recipe some days

  8. Replies
    1. thanks yummy c - I think we could call these yummy chunklets :-)

  9. Hehe I have those sorts of days when I go one way and a recipe goes another! :P Like today I'm trying to do this month's Daring Bakers!

    1. Thanks Lorraine - I think I would find it challenging to stay on track with Daring Bakers but will look forward to seeing yours

  10. I love all of your experiments here - and you ended up with something unique that you liked!

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I think many of my recipe are unique - ie unlikely to ever be repeated in exactly that way :-)

  11. Your carrot balls look wonderful despite all the experimenting along the way! Do purple carrots taste different from orange ones? Yellow ones are less sweet so I like the orange ones better. :P I'd love to try purple carrots but have never seen any!

    1. Thanks Kath - I think the purple carrots are less sweet than the orange ones - I confess I buy them for the colour - they are even selling purple carrots in our supermarkets sometimes but I found these at the farmers market

  12. I think they look gorgeous regardless - how could you not want to eat anything of that colour? I could definitely see myself enjoying them in a sandwich with some chutney and leaves!

    1. Thanks Joey - I am very easily swayed by a fun colour in cooking - they were great in a sandwich but too messy to photograph - such is sometimes the way with good food :-)


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